Not rated, but it has some pretty messed up content. In older movies, if you watch an animal get slaughtered, there was no PETA making sure that it was for the ethical treatment of animals. You know that phrase, "Like a chicken with its head cut off?" Yeah, I know what that looks like now. Also, a dog really gets shot. I feel bad putting those first because they are the most graphic elements of this movie, but there's also a sexual assault that happens off camera. Also, the movie is loaded with non-nudity sexuality and mild violence.
DIRECTOR: Metin Erksan
I spent way too long trying to find a picture above. While I agree that the image above looks far too sexual for this blog, it is technically showing a jerk sucking snake venom out of a wound. Also, the aspect is all wrong, but I needed something that didn't have a watermark and was high enough resolution. I'm really struggling all around now because I'm writing against a clock and I have little desire to write at all. I know. My life is the hardest.
I'm still wading through the many, many Martin Scorsese World Cinema project movies. It's not that I don't like them. Often, I'll like them quite a bit. But part of me really is in the mood for something fun and stupid. It's not that I don't get opportunities to watch that kind of movie. It's just that, right now, I'm in the mood to watch something stupid. And Dry Summer is overall pretty darned great. It's not perfect. It actually has a lot that I'm going to be griping about over the course of this movie. But the movie absolutely achieves what it set out to do, which is to talk about capitalism and gender roles in Turkey. It seems like all of the movies in this first volume love to talk about the upper class as the villain. The funny thing about Dry Summer is that, apparently in Turkey, the villain is still pretty lower class. He just has more money and resources than his neighbor. I'm pretty sure that I've watched and written about other Turkish films. But I rarely get the idea that Turkey is really about opulence. Rather, the culture in Dry Summer is about dog-eat-dog.
That's partially because the other farmers don't necessarily have individual personalities. We get the notion that Osman enjoys that he has power over these people and that everything that he does is unjust. It's how not-to-run-a-farm 101 undoes every bit of goodwill from such a character. But the film takes the hard stance of man v. society quickly and doesn't allow the other farmers to really become people. They often serve as an exposition for how the community rallies against Osman. Yet, somehow even with the anonymity of the individual farmers, the film is still effective to show how off-the-rails Osman really is. Perhaps the moment where Osman kills one of the farmers is a little dulled by the fact that we don't really know who died. But they just really use the death to get rid of Hasan, which is one of the central plot points midway through the story.
It's in this moment where the film could be confused for torture cinema. Hasan is in jail and almost disappears from the film until the conclusion of the movie. But the movie rapidly spirals into a force of survival between Bahar and Osman. That's what we really care about. I'm not saying it isn't about the water. It absolutely is. But the relationship between Osman's obsessive clinginess to property also applies to his obsession with Bahar. It's so uncomfortable and so cringey (it's supposed to be!) when Osman stalks Bahar once Hasan marries her. That joke goes on way too long, where he begs for male nephews. Erksan quickly follows that sequence with the honeymoon with Osman staring through a crack in the wall a 'la Norman Bates. But it is in his obsession with Bahar that we see how truly awful of a human being that Osman is. While we all should disagree with how Osman handles his farm, he does have a small point. If you really squint, you can understand that he's just taking care of his own land before allowing others to bleed him dry.
But that argument is almost annulled by the way that he treats Bahar. When Hasan goes to prison, it is with the understanding that Bahar will be fine when Hasan gets back. And I kind of believe that Osman may not have thought himself the scoundrel that he turns out to be. But Osman takes his greed to this next level when he starts destroying letters from Hasan. Everything becomes about ownership and coveting. When he believes that Hasan is dead (which isn't exactly clear if he really believes that), he assumes that he will be able to seduce Bahar, despite having abysmal social skills. But he then takes her. I'm not clear if the wedding happened or didn't, but it is implied that Bahar views herself as Osman's property. If you take the way he treats Bahar as understood property, his argument that he needs all of the water for his land becomes a bit absurd. He may need water, but the element of hoarding is the real issue. It's physically verified in the notion that Osman swims in the pool that forms from the dam from the spring.
Can I tell you what really got under my craw? It's so stupid. It's so stupid that I shouldn't even document it. It's the kind of thing that children cry about. I'm not crazy in saying that every fight scene was bad, right? I've always hated fast-motion added to fight scenes in old movies. It never screams anything about reality. But even more so, what about fight choreography? I know. Other cultures value different things than Western audiences expect. But there's nothing fundamentally budgeting about planning out violence ahead of time. When Osman takes on all of the farmers with an axe, it almost doesn't make sense that he survives that moment. And as bad as that moment is, I have to talk about the climactic battle between Osman and Hasan. What happened there? I know that the director wanted Hasan on the ropes when it came to Osman, so Osman had a gun. But that gun didn't make a lick of sense when it came to that fight. I was just watching that scene and thinking that every gunshot that was fired at Hasan should have killed him. And that scene is so important. If you just took the gun away, that scene would have played out beautifully. The idea of these two forces of nature battling in the life blood of the earth is perfect. But the gunshots? It feels immature considering so much of this movie warranted attention and craftsmanship. How can everything be set up so nicely and then that happen?
It's not one of my favorite movies. There's some good stuff there, but I feel like I want to like it more than I actually do. It's by no means a bad movie. It's just fine.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.